How to Send a Message in Plain Text from Gmail

Strip the fancy formatting to improve the compatibility of your messages

What to Know

  • In the message composition window, select the three-dot menu, then choose Plain text mode.
  • To remove formatting from a string of text, highlight the text and choose the Remove formatting button from the Formatting toolbar.

In Gmail, you can easily send messages using either rich HTML formatting or just plain text. Plain-text formats strip formatting, as well as colors and images. Here we'll tell you how to send plain-text messages through the web version of Gmail.

How to Send a Message in Plain Text from Gmail

To send an email in plain text in Gmail, compose a message as you normally would. At the bottom of the compose window, click the three-dot menu then click Plain text mode.

This setting acts as a toggle; to de-activate plain-text mode, re-select the menu option.

To remove formatting from a string of text, highlight the text and choose the Remove formatting button from the Formatting toolbar.

A screenshot of Gmail with the Plain Text Mode command highlighted

Why Plain Text Emails Matter

Plain-text messaging is technically the default method by which emails are transmitted. However, if you use special formats like HTML or RTF, the email will looks like gibberish behind the scenes; the raw formatting code is what actually transmits over the internet. The recipient's email program reads the encoded instructions to reconstruct then present the email as you intended.

In most cases, this reconstruction process isn't a big deal. However, most email programs allow users to disable HTML rendering of messages as a security precaution. Because spam messages, viruses, and other types of malware can execute when an email program reads and then executes code, programs (like Microsoft Outlook) tend to suppress HTML by default.

So if your message depends on HTML, a large chunk of your audience may not see it, especially if they haven't added your email address as a trusted or safelisted correspondent.

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